Governor Pritzker announces new free mental health services for state residents

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CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO/AP) — Governor Pritzker began his daily press conference expressing sympathy for those struggling mentally during these stressful times. The governor announced a new state program to give people readily available support.

“We are living in a deeply unprecedented moment, and holding the emotional ramifications of that inside will only be harder on you. Please know that you don’t have to feel it all alone,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “My administration is here to serve you and help see you through this time of crisis – I want you to know that we’re here to help.”

The Illinois Department of Human Services health division created a text hotline to provide support to anyone who needs it. Text “Talk” to 552020 and a mental health counselor will get back to you. Spanish speaking residents can text “Hablar” to the same number.

The service is completely free and you can remain anonymous. All you need to provide is your first name and zip code.

People in need can also text the words “unemployment,” “food,” and “shelter” for specific help. The governor also announced a new town hall targeted specifically for children.

Pritzker noted that the curve appears to be flattening, as health officials are seeing a lower rise in hospitalization. The numbers bounce around from day to day, but the overall trend is better.

Illinois has also launched a new Remote Patient Monitoring Program utilizing Telehealth Services and Pandemic Health Worker (PHW) Programs in partnership with OSF HealthCare and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

The program will reduce barriers to health and mental health services to support residents across Illinois with a focus on underserved communities and those at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has recently been using his clemency power to commute sentences for some Illinois prisoners amid coronavirus outbreak.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Pritzker granted commutations for 17 Illinois inmates since March 11. Basil Powell, who was imprisoned in 1986 for being the lookout in two robberies, was one of those prisoners.

A tough-on-crime sentencing law that labeled him a repeat offender led to his life sentence after his conviction. But reform advocates fought for his release due to their concern regarding elderly and sick inmates during the outbreak, and he was released Thursday.

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